Currently reading: 10 of the most inappropriately named cars in history
From the petrol-powered Fiat 500 Diesel to the Honda HR-V Joy Machine, these car names couldn't be further from the truth
Autocar
News
4 mins read
29 January 2017

A lot of thought, time and money goes into deciding the name of any new car, but despite this, some manufacturers still end up with some odd choices for their new models.

We list 10 perfect examples of just this below. Each, we think, is either slightly ironic or just plain old funny.

Can you add any more to the list? Let us know in the comments section underneath.

Honda Legend

The lost city of Atlantis, Bobby Moore, and the cryogenic freezing of Walt Disney’s corpse are all legends, albeit of different types. What definitely isn’t a legend is a large and distinctly forgettable Japanese faux-luxury saloon, designed to take up where another hopelessly inappropriately named car had left off: the Honda Vigor, essentially a lethargic Accord with more wood and leather.

Mitsubishi Carisma

They must have been in stitches in the boardroom when they signed off the name on this one. It was possibly the most anonymous car in history, so how they kept a straight face when they explained that it actually referenced the Greek word ‘kharisma’, meaning ‘divine gift’, is truly impressive. It did, however, go on to achieve no small degree of success as a rally car with Richard Burns. So it’s not all bad: just mostly.

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Suzuki Fun

This was on sale in Argentina as a rebadged Chevrolet Celta, which was in turn based on the second iteration of what we know as the Vauxhall Corsa. So it was hardly blessed with the most prodigious gene pool. Calling this 1.0-litre death trap ‘fun’ though (even Latin NCAP rated it as “highly unsafe”) was a real insult to intelligence – unless your idea of fun includes activities such as DIY appendectomy. See also the Skoda Felicia Fun: so-named because everyone will laugh if you drive one.

Fiat Uno Start

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Having owned this Fiat special edition, the endless hours spent in the freezing cold with a can of WD40 and dwindling reserves of patience, listening to the death throes of the starter motor while going resolutely nowhere, pay tribute to the fundamental incompatibility of the name with the reality of the ownership experience.

Skoda Rapid

 

We’re talking about the ‘poor man’s Porsche’ here, not the modern car (although even that is hardly going to give the Nordschleife any sleepless nights). Instead, the quickest of the 1980s Rapids took about 15 seconds to accelerate from 0-60mph and ran out of interest at 95mph (although you’d have to be brave, with plenty of time on your hands, to attempt that). The only genuine way you could describe it as rapid was in comparison to a dumper truck.

Fiat 500 Diesel

Nothing wrong with this special edition baby Fiat itself, which gained a cool metallic green paint job, special alloy wheels, louvered metallic detailing, and – note this point carefully – several prominent ‘Diesel’ badges to celebrate its partnership with the Italian jeans manufacturer. Just don’t do what I did. It actually needs petrol to make it go.

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Austin Cambridge

The only thing even vaguely cool about the Austin Cambridge is that it’s slightly related to the A35 van, whose most famous celebrity owner was James Hunt. But what makes the Cambridge a particularly inappropriately named vehicle is the fact that it was actually produced in Oxford, from 1954 to 1971. With the fierce rivalry that exists between the two university towns, this is probably why they made it deliberately awful.

Vauxhall Victor

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In its various forms, the Vauxhall Victor was manufactured for 21 years. During that time, it never won a single thing of note. Although it was probably snapped up by men called Victor: a marketing strategy adopted less successfully by Nissan when they launched the Cedric many years later…

Austin Allegro

As any musician or speaker of Italian will know, ‘allegro’ means happy or lively. Neither of these are feelings generally associated with driving the Allegro: especially the truly hideous Vanden Plas edition with its oppressive fake mahogany and chocolate brown velour.

Honda HR-V Joy Machine

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While a ‘Joy Machine’ sounds like the sort of device that might be purchased from a disreputable shop in Soho, the reality is that it was just a distinctly average SUV, which Honda thought they could sell to a younger demographic by dint of aggressively cheerful marketing. So HR-V stands for ‘Hi-Rider Revolutionary Vehicle’, while the Joy Machine moniker was a toned down version of the original concept called: “Wild and Joyfull J-WJ” (sic). Nobody was fooled.

Anthony Peacock

Any other suggestions of cars whose names bear absolutely no resemblance to what they are actually like? Comments below, please...

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Jack Yan 12 July 2018

An anorak comes by …

Not the usual standard I expect from Autocar (reader since 1980): the Vigor replaced the Vigor at Honda, not the Legend. It simply went from the CA series to the CB series, mirroring the Accord. The Austin Cambridge entry is humorous, except the photograph of the A50 Cambridge you’ve shown there is of one made in Japan by Nissan. I see another reader has  already pointed out the error about the Allegro-based Vanden Plas.

bowsersheepdog 14 February 2017

Cold, dead handbrake

Ford Fiesta. There's nothing festive about it. It should be called the Wake, because if you buy one your life is over. The Focus and Mondeo should be renamed the Funeral and Obituary for the same reason.
avidreader 11 February 2017

anything named "triumph"

hahaha